Welcome to Delany's Dozen. We'll do the formal get to know you thing at a later time, but for now I'm on Buckeye Defcon 6.
As a Buckeye, I've only known the Tressel era. I enrolled in the school in 2001, the same year Tressel started his current tenure. While it's taken awhile to grow fond of Tressel Ball, in the end its hard to argue there is a finer all around coach in the land.
But that legacy has taken a major hit in the last 24 hours. I'll outline my sentiment via a timeline below.
- Yahoo breaks story that Tressel knew in April of players Selling Merchandise (3/7 4PM)
Yahoo? Shit those guys know how to dig up a story and their track record is solid. I'm skeptical as the whole report is from an unnamed source and there seems to be a lot of gray area around if he knew, how he was informed, etc. I'm perturbed because of all of the scandals a school could face (boosters, paying recruits, academic, falseifying SATS's, etc) the Tattoogate story I thought ran its course and was given a fair punishment.
- Press Conference Announced, Tressel To Be Fired Rumors (All day 3/8)
Dear god….really? Is Tressel really the kind of guy you want to go out of your way to burn on the stake? Never thought he elicited that kind of disdain from media, NCAA, university, and fanbase. His track record has been pretty solid.
- School Releases Self Sanctions Report 5 Minutes Before 7 PM ET Press Conference
I feel good here. Yahoo didn't really dig up a massive story. OSU was self investigating and close to making an announcement. Someone just leaked before the conclusion of the investigation. OSU's Athletic Department and Compliance Office have been superb over the past decade and I feel good that again they're the ones leading the charge and not trying to cover Tressel or the player's tracks. Call me a homer but both offices have always been dilligent, agressive, and pro active on self investigating and policing and the initial investigation into the players and Tressel were both thorough. In fact the compliance office went through Tressel's emails and the rest of the staff to see just who knew. I find solace that nobody beyond Tressel "played ball". The self report seems complete, lacks sugar coating and spin, and implicates Tressel alone and outlines sanctions that are fair imo.
7pm ET Conference
Gene Smith comes off as Stringer Bell if he was 55 or so. Tressel seems sincere, but then it all goes South. His explanation gets a bit murkier especially as he takes questions. President Gordon Gee doesn't do him any favors by claiming that Jim Tressel could fire him if he wanted. I like the support they are showing Tressel but he seems a bit aloof when explaining how and why he failed to forward the issue up the chain and that is concerning. At this point in time, I think that the punishment fits the crime and I'm a little offput by the college football fans screaming bloody murder (they do this almost regardless the school and the issue it seems)
Tressel Emails Released. WTF? 8PM ET
[Photo from Thunder Treats)
My belief that the ire and scorn of fans will go away over time especially when its pretty clear Oregon has a MUCH shadier scandal on their hands has now eroded. Below is the best link to look over the emails. It's deflating.
The information was teed up for Tressel and his responses are just so blase. The first email DOES NOT mention anything about confidentiality at all and is very thorough.
Tressel's response includes two sentences (one of which is Happy Easter), 4 exclamation points, and no sense of urgency. You would have hoped he would have hopped on a call with this individual or followed up with some more questions or forwarded this to the proper compliance people. He did not and the explanation of why he didn't, really doesn't hold any water anymore.
Confused? Confidentiality? Nope, he just doesn't really want to dig on this one.
The follow up emails are more of the same. Someone reaching out to Tressel with more detailed information and more short responses that seems as if Tressel's email client is somehow limited to only 143 characters a reply like Twitter.
At one point confidentiality is requested and Tressel does ask if he has any names for him to look into the matter but still that falls way way short of NCAA regulations and his responsibilities to the program.
Tressel's entire statement and explanation no longer come off as sincere. He's attempting damage control and spinning and the emails don't back him up at all. He's now covering up the cover-up.
So What Now?
I still don't think he should be fired but two games is not enough. I hope the Big Ten, Ohio State, or the NCAA amends the punishment to match that of the players who are suspended for 5 games. That would be fair in my opinion and until the discrepancy between punishment and crime is closed, Ohio State is going to find themselves drawing the scorn of the media and fans alike.
At the end of the day, I'm dissapointed in Tressel and also the university for suggesting a soft punishment with the knowledge that the emails would be made public.
I'm still not one of the OSU fans who wants to disown the five players for their indiscretions. Stuff like changing grades, paying recruits (via agents or boosters), illegal academic help, giving away handicap placards to players, ignoring recruiting rules, and stuff of that nature I think is much worse.
The players sold property they owned but could not sell until they were pro athletes. It was against the rules and they got punished pretty severely in my opinion (for the record I wished they WERE suspended for the bowl game). Justice was served and it was served via a self investigation by Ohio State.
That investigation should have started much earlier and effected last season and not this upcoming season. Tressel turned the other way and that was wrong. His punishment is modest but doesn't seem to fit the crime or send the message that compliance is a top priority. I think his punishment will be amended at some point and wish we could keep the reputation of being a university of thorough self policing and punishment.
In this case Tressel didn't initiate process nor engage with the individual who held the information neccesary to investigate the matter. The university's soft punishment only compounds the problem and puts more fuel on the fire that OSU is not a clean program, a stigma that persists because of the program's success.
With a lot of talent suspended, Tressel consumed by controversy, a new coach at Michigan, and a Big Ten Championship game added to the gauntlet of the regular season, you have to wonder if the era of OSU Big Ten dominance is beginning to see the first signs of erosion.